Dr Liana Chua

Tunku Fund Director, Postgraduate Tutor (Welfare)
Tunku Abdul Rahman University Associate Professor in Malay World Studies

Dr Chua is a social anthropologist with long-term interests in ethnic politics, Christianity, development, environmental transformations and more-than-human landscapes in Borneo. She currently works on the social, political and aesthetic dimensions of the global nexus of orangutan conservation, tracing its operations, transformations and effects across national and cultural boundaries. Her projects on this theme include POKOK, an anthropology and conservation collaboration, and The Global Lives of the Orangutan, a European Research Council-funded exploration of orangutan conservation in ‘the Anthropocene’. Other research and teaching interests include digital ethnography, visual and material culture, and anthropological knowledge practices.

Dr Chua enjoys putting anthropology to work in cross-disciplinary collaborations and public engagement, and – as Tunku Abdul Rahman Lecturer in Malay World Studies – is keen to cultivate (more) connections and conversations between Cambridge and maritime Southeast Asia. She holds a BA (Hons) in Modern History (Oxford) and an MPhil and PhD in Social Anthropology (Cambridge). Before joining St Catharine’s, she was a Research Fellow at Gonville and Caius College and Reader in Anthropology at Brunel University London.

Chua, L. 2022. ‘“If God is with us, who can be against us?” Christianity, cosmopolitics and living with difference in Malaysian Borneo’. Current Anthropology 63 (6): 714–736.

Chua, L., H. Fair, V. Scheer, A. Stępień and P.H. Thung. 2021. ‘“Only the orangutans get a life jacket”: uncommoning responsibility in a global conservation nexus’. American Ethnologist 48 (4): 370-385.

Chua, L. 2021. ‘Witnessing the unseen: crisis and commitment in encounters with extinction and spirits’. Special issue on ‘Anthropologies of witnessing: truths, transformations, technologies’, ed. L. Chua and O. Grinberg. The Cambridge Journal of Anthropology 39 (1): 111-129.

Chua, L., M.E. Harrison, H. Fair, S. Milne, A. Palmer, J. Rubis, P. Thung, S. Wich, B. Büscher, S.M. Cheyne, R.K. Puri, V. Schreer, A. Stępień, E. Meijaard. 2020. ‘Conservation and the social sciences: beyond critique and co-optation. A case study from orangutan conservation’. People and Nature 42(1):42-60.

Chua, L. 2018. ‘Too cute to cuddle? “Witnessing publics” and interspecies relations on the social media-scape of orangutan conservation’. Anthropological Quarterly 91 (3):873-903.

Chua, L. and Mathur, N., eds. 2018. Who are ‘we’? Reimagining alterity and affinity in anthropology. New York and Oxford: Berghahn.

Chua, L. 2016. ‘Gifting, dam(n)ing and the ambiguation of development in Malaysian Borneo’. Ethnos 81 (4):  735-57.

Chua, L. 2015. ‘Troubled landscapes, troubling anthropology: co-presence, necessity, and the making of anthropological knowledge’. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 21 (3): 641-59.

Chua, L. 2012. The Christianity of culture: Conversion, ethnic citizenship and the matter of religion in Malaysian Borneo. New York: Palgrave Macmillan Contemporary Anthropology of Religion series.

2013 Curl Lecture, Royal Anthropological Institute